Dr Snowy Khoza, Chief Executive Officer of the Bigen Africa Group, was named National Business Leader of the Year at the 13th National Business Awards event at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park on 19 November 2015.
Bigen Africa, a leading solutions-driven infrastructure development Group with a firm foothold in southern Africa and a fast-growing Africa footprint, was also honoured at the National Business Awards – which have been described as “the Oscars of South African Business” – by being named Infrastructure Development Company of the Year. Bigen Africa provides value-based and integrated engineering, management consulting, development financing and advisory services.
The National Business Awards are organised on an annual basis, in collaboration with Top Performing Companies, to celebrate exceptional business organisations and inspirational business leaders from various industries for their outstanding performance in the world of business and government.
Social activist and champion of transformation
“These awards recognise the finest talents and organisations that South Africa has to offer,” says Dr Iraj Abedian, Chairman of the Bigen Africa Board. Nominees include some of the largest South African businesses such as Bigen Africa, the Billion Group, Kumba Iron Ore, Aspen Pharmacare, Alexander Forbes, Woolworths and Absa Bank.
“As Chairman of the Bigen Africa Board, I find it particularly gratifying that the Group’s vision and its insistence on the highest standards of performance are in line with the awards’ mission ‘to better our people, planet and profits through excellence’,” says Dr Abedian. “These goals also agree with Dr Khoza’s personal philosophy as a dedicated business leader, social activist and a champion of transformation.”
Since being appointed at Bigen Africa in 2010, Dr Khoza has led its evolution from an engineering firm to an infrastructure development Group, also introducing its “doing good while doing business” philosophy which includes ensuring that employment and procurement opportunities arising from projects are channelled to the local communities as far as possible.
Dr Khoza’s concern for others is rooted in both her own experience of an impoverished youth underpinned by her strong Christian faith imparted by the grandmother who raised her.
“With tenacity and determination, she has overcome financial constraints and other hardships to complete various qualifications including an MBA and a PhD in Social Policy,” comments Dr Abedian “and has become the first black woman to lead an infrastructure development Group and set it on a highly successful course.”
With core capabilities in engineering, management consulting and project finance, Bigen Africa provides sustainable infrastructure development solutions to African clients by integrating the entire value chain through in-house capabilities and strategic partnerships. The Group’s growing African footprint includes an established South African base of eight branches and 4 project offices as well as offices in Ghana, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.
“With her proven ability to optimise company outcomes in a results-orientated work environment without compromising on quality or service standards, Dr Khoza has ensured both organic and business development for the Group,” says Dr Abedian. “This has resulted in positive revenue growth and a strong balance sheet, despite the many global economic uncertainties which have been afflicting businesses for a while”.
A visionary leader
“An enthusiastic, visionary and hard-working leader, Dr Khoza has inspired her team and together they have expanded the Group’s Africa footprint, highlighting its capability as ‘an African company providing African infrastructure solutions for African countries’, and securing mega infrastructure development projects in various African locations.
“As a testimony to her drive and insight into the continent’s infrastructure development needs, Dr Khoza was the only woman invited to present at the Infrastructure Development conference held in Khartoum, Sudan in 2014, and at various other infrastructure conferences in Zambia and Ghana.”
Within the Bigen Africa Group, Dr Khoza has ensured capacity building through the implementation of a corporate governance policy, efficiencies and controls; human resources and performance management systems; a formalised internal audit function as well as strategic management processes and, last but not least, has ensured a “zero tolerance for theft and corruption” stance across the Group.
“Having contributed to Bigen Africa’s reputation for service excellence and high ethics, Dr Khoza has been personally recognised for her unwavering integrity, most recently by being named the winner in the Business category of the recognition awards presented annually by Unashamedly Ethical,” says Dr Abedian. “The awards are aimed at honouring men, women and organisations exhibiting excellent character and commitment to ethical behaviour in a way which has positively impacted the lives of people around them, or the communities where they live and operate.”
In 2014, Dr Khoza was also one of five South Africans awarded Continental Lifetime Achiever status at a gala dinner honouring Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government. She also received the CESA Young Professionals Forum (YPF) Recognition Award for special achievements and sterling contributions to, as well as for uplifting the role of women in, the construction industry and consulting engineering profession.
Dr Abedian emphasises that the tremendous recognition and respect Dr Khoza receives is not only for her proven business acumen, but also for her personal integrity and compassion for the underprivileged put into action. “In her personal life, Dr Khoza is deeply involved in initiatives for improving the quality of life of disadvantaged people and continually strives to create sustainable support systems for children and families in need of care, impoverished and disabled people, youth at risk and women living in marginalised black communities. She has, for example, established the Snowy Khoza Trust, which assists children and child prisoners in obtaining an education.”
With her passion for people, unwavering principles and visionary business approach, Dr Khoza has helped to chart a highly successful course for Bigen Africa, even in the most challenging of economic and political climates, and firmly established the Group as a major stakeholder in the vital business of closing Africa’s infrastructure gap.
“I am pleased that Dr Khoza, and the Bigen Africa Group, have received these accolades,” says Dr Abedian. “Based on her insightful leadership of an outstanding team of ‘engineers with a conscience’, the Group has become a leader in the infrastructure development industry, not only realising its vision of improving the quality of life through the development of sustainable infrastructure solutions, but also adding value by ‘doing good while doing business’.”